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Ken Banks

The Digital Identity Toolkit: helping people make sense of digital identity

The Digital Identity Toolkit: helping people make sense of digital identity

Today we are excited to announce the launch of our Digital Identity Toolkit. As part of our wider Social Purpose strategy, it is aimed at the general public, entrepreneurs, software developers, humanitarian organisations, academics and journalists, we seek to demystify digital identities and – where appropriate – help promote their adoption and use in pursuit of humanitarian solutions around the world.    Digital Identity Toolkit The easy-to-use Toolkit aims to provide everything you need to know about digital identity. To make it as accessible as possible, we’ve broken it down into eight separate sections so you can dive straight into any area that interests you the most. Each section will be launched individually over the next few months so please note that not all of them will be available at once.    1. The Introduction Provides a summary of the Toolkit’s content, and details of intended audience and learning objectives.   2. Identity Basics Explores what identity is, what it is used for, the different types of traditional (non-digital) identification, why it matters and some of the consequences of living without identification. It also provides a brief history of identification and explores the shift from paper-based to online/digital identities.   3. Digital Identity Explained looks at how to create a digital identity and what it can be used for. We dive into digital trends and developments, provide advice on how you can establish and manage your digital identity, and look at the different types of digital providers.   4. Case Studies Gives examples of how governments, NGOs and the private sector around the world use digital identities. This section is categorised by sector to give you a sense of the vastly different uses of digital identity: from supporting refugees’ access to critical services and making it easier to travel and collaborate across borders through to enabling access to a wide range of government and financial services.   5. Digital Identity Providers Gives examples of the different types of verified digital identity providers, describes their solutions, how they’re used, who they target, their unique selling points, their main uses and what they’re best used for.   6. Implementation Looks at how you might integrate the solutions outlined in the previous section into your own products or services.   7. Data Privacy and Security Examines key privacy and security points that you need to factor in as you plan, develop and build a digital identity system. It has a detailed checklist of questions to help you protect your users’ privacy and security at every stage.   8. Reports and Further Reading Is a directory of reports on digital identity for those who wish to delve further into this exciting area of work.   Download, read and share The toolkit is available here to download. We hope it is useful for as many people as possible and we encourage you to read, review and share with whoever may be interested.  Given that digital identity is a rapidly evolving sector, this is something of a living resource. If you spot anything amiss, or you have suggestions that might help us improve things, we’d love to hear from you.   Photo credits: Hayley Capp/CARE UK

3 min read
Meet the 2019 Yoti Digital Identity Fellows

Meet the 2019 Yoti Digital Identity Fellows

Earlier this year, after an extended period of ­research and evaluation, we announced the launch of a new Social Purpose Strategy. With an unashamed grassroots focus, each activity is designed to help us better understand, support and empower individuals and organisations working on critical issues of identity, primarily in the Global South. A flagship activity from the Strategy is a Fellowship Programme which we launched in April. Over a two-month application period we invited proposals for research, media, policy or development solutions based on four key themes related to identity or digital identity. With a preference for applicants from the Global South, outputs from the Fellow’s activities could be anything from a technical platform, a report, a website, a book, a policy paper, a film or any other medium relevant to their proposal. Four months and over 120 applications later, we are excited to unveil the 2019 cohort of Yoti Digital Identity Fellows. Our three fellows will be focusing on issues of exclusion and human rights in Argentina, South Africa and India.   Tshepo Magoma Tshepo is an experienced researcher, strategist and innovator with a track record working in Africa’s small business and social enterprise sectors. He is particularly interested in the digitisation of the continent, and is a subject-matter expert in disruptive innovation. He is an advocate for youth entrepreneurship and has worked widely in the NGO sector. Tshepo is also a published academic and has been a speaker, facilitator and panelist at numerous events including the African Union, Africa Research Group, The Innovation Hub, ISPA iWeek 2019 and the World Youth Forum in Egypt.   Tshepo’s fellowship Over the course of his fellowship, Tshepo will be studying the digital identity landscape in South Africa, in particular its effectiveness in fighting fraud. He will examine the national digital identity programme from a human rights perspective, and propose safeguards and policy recommendations for all those involved – including public officials, lawmakers, representatives from judicial and human rights institutions, technologists, officers of development institutions, and members of the private sector. Launched in 2013, Tshepo will be particularly focused on South Africa’s national smart ID card identity programme. “For as long as I can remember it has been my ambition to become one of the leading digital researchers in Africa” says Tshepo. “I have spent the last few years focusing on the challenges and issues around digital identities, corporate innovation and disruptive innovation, as well as advocating technologies that work for marginalised communities. My Yoti Digital Identity Fellowship will give me a great opportunity to explore the issues and challenges of digital identity frameworks in the context of a developing country, which is very exciting to me.”   Paz Bernaldo Paz is a Chilean development practitioner, researcher and activist focused on open science and technology, knowledge justice and locally-led development. Currently based in Argentina, she has worked for more than ten years in different countries and with a wide range of people – from low-income immigrants to powerful government officials. She has also worked with artists, designers, technologists and researchers on large-scale technical (and experimental) projects. Paz holds a Bachelors Degree in Philosophy and is a Master of Science in Development.   Paz’s fellowship Over the course of her fellowship, Paz will focus on unravelling what digital identity, and identity in general, means to unemployed and under-employed individuals receiving support from public job centres and local labour NGOs in two major cities in Argentina – Gran Buenos Aires and Mar del Plata, the city with the highest unemployment rate in the country. Vulnerable groups are those most likely to seek help from job centres and NGOs, yet they are the ones usually most hit by the rapid digitalisation of the public space and the economy.   Paz will explore these groups’ lived experiences, starting with the recognition that they are consciously manoeuvering, enhancing, modifying or hiding parts of their identities during their job searches. As agents, they interact with a wide range of organisations and increasingly in ways that are mediated by digital tools and platforms. This mediated making and changing of their identities matters and deserves attention.  “I’m very excited to have been selected as a Yoti Digital Identity Fellow” says Paz. “When I first heard of the Programme it struck me as an incredible opportunity to spend a year focusing on a critical digital identity issue in Argentina. The Fellowship also felt like something of a personal adventure, and a wonderful opportunity to explore a topic close to my heart.”   Subhashish Panigrahi  Subhashish is a digital storyteller, researcher, documentary filmmaker and activist working towards digital freedom for marginalised communities. With leading community catalyst roles spanning almost a decade for nonprofits like Wikimedia Foundation, Mozilla, Internet Society and the Centre for Internet Society, Subhashish has helped grow the reach of the open internet across the Asia-Pacific region.  A National Geographic Explorer, he has documented languages and cultural heritages that are under great threat – including the Kusunda language of Nepal that is spoken by just two individuals. He co-founded O Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to working on marginalised issues with the objective of helping communities with open digital resources to document indigenous and endangered languages.   Subhashish’s fellowship  In India, creating a digital identity system for a developing and an extremely ethno-socially diverse economy of 1.3 billion people is not an easy task. Only by following an open and inclusive process can it bring fairness to everyone. This process should be bottom-up and be based on open community consensus, giving utmost priority to individual privacy. India’s Aadhaar, a biometric-based digital identity system, has been at the centre of many privacy- and digital rights-related discussions for its ambitious goals, with particular concerns of state surveillance. During the course of his fellowship, Subhashish will carry out focused multimedia research designed to amplify the challenges and opportunities within marginalised groups that are being (or will soon be) affected most by Aadhaar. “We all know that organisations should put people and their privacy front and center while building digital identity solutions. Technology is continuously evolving and so are the risks, and what really makes a difference are the values that drive initiatives” says Subhashish. “My Digital Identify Fellowship will give me a unique opportunity to look at the largely unexplored impact of India’s digital identity efforts through the lenses of marginalised communities.”   Next steps Tshepo, Paz and Subhashish will commence their fellowships on October 1 and will provide regular updates on their progress through the Yoti blog and our new digital identity-focused online community. If you’d like to join the community please let us know. If you’d like to contact the Fellows please send a message in the first instance to our Social Purpose Team, and they will be passed on.  Reflecting on her role as a member of the Selection Panel, Chrissy Martin is excited for what lies ahead. “We still have a long way to go in fully understanding the implications of various digital ID initiatives, especially for the most vulnerable. The diversity of applications for the Yoti Fellowship and the issues covered highlighted just how important it is to amplify a wide range of voices, as they raise issues that are rarely researched or discussed. I’m thrilled to see how these three fellows will contribute to the conversation and hopefully influence future policy decisions not only in their country, but globally.”  Applications for the 2020 Fellowship Programme will be open from next April.

7 min read
Reflections on the launch of our digital identity Fellowship Programme

Reflections on the launch of our digital identity Fellowship Programme

Earlier this year, after an extended period of ­research and evaluation, we announced the launch of a new Social Impact Strategy. With an unashamed grassroots focus, each activity was designed to help us better understand, support and empower individuals and organisations working on critical issues of identity, primarily in the Global South. A flagship activity from the Strategy is a Fellowship Programme which we launched in April. Over a two-month application period, we invited proposals for research, media, policy or development solutions based on four key themes related to identity or digital identity. With a preference for applicants from the Global South, outputs from the Fellow’s activities could be anything from a technical platform, a report, a website, a book, a policy paper, a film or any other medium relevant to the proposal.   What we were looking at Unlocking the challenges of providing and managing identity solutions among refugee, migrant, marginalised or economically exploited communities or individuals. Studying the difficulties experienced by indigenous communities in establishing and proving identity, as well as claiming any state benefits they may be eligible for. Unpicking what ‘digital identity’ and identity more broadly means to communities in developing countries (including those living in or close to the last mile) and the NGOs and local organisations providing services to them. Any other issues which warrant investigation which are not yet part of the wider digital identity debate.   Last weekend the two-month application window closed with a flurry of 76 applications in the final 48 hours. Overall, we received over 120 applications from over 30 countries providing us with some fascinating insight into the kinds of challenges, issues and opportunities that mattered most to the people closest to them. Outputs ranged from websites, apps, research papers, books and documentary films, all reflecting the creativity of the applications and the diversity of the areas of study. If anyone ever doubted that citizens in the Global South lacked the imagination, motivation, drive and passion to be part of a digital identity debate which will – in many cases – deeply affect them, this is proof otherwise. A number of applicants proposed researching national digital identity solutions at differing stages of rollout, such as those already in use (India), those in the process of being implemented (Kenya and Ghana) and those in the process of considering or planning and implementation (Namibia). From the initial field of 120+ applications we compiled a shortlist of 54 who will now be reviewed by our expert selection panel. With only three Fellowships available, this will not be an easy task. Shortlisted applications were those which included the required proposal, CV and reference documents, which met one of the thematic themes, and which gave a strong outline of the work they intended to do, how they proposed to do it, and what the output will be. Close connections to the theme of the proposal – both personally and geographically – was also considered an advantage.   Summary of shortlisted applications Total number of shortlisted applications: 54 Percentage of applicants by gender: 34% female and 66% male Number of countries from the Global South represented: 26 Countries represented: Philippines, Mexico, Egypt, Guatemala, Ecuador, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Honduras, Nigeria, El Salvador, Malawi, Namibia, Rwanda, Nepal, Tanzania, South Africa, Ghana, Myanmar, Argentina, Brazil, Slovakia, Cambodia The range of proposals varied widely and included: Helping migrants rebuild trust and reputation. The pros and cons of digital identity among Afghan refugees. Studying the challenges in the rollout of Kenya’s ‘Huduma Namba’ national digital identity system. Public perceptions of digital identity in Malawi. Difficulties in registering Nigerian citizens in identification programmes. Advancing digital identity for financial services in South Africa. Digital identity in support of street children in Ethiopia. Digital identity opportunities in Brazilian favelas and among indigenous communities. Outputs covered everything from books, documentary films, handbooks, research papers, websites to apps.   Lessons learnt As with many first-time programmes such as this, there are things we could have done differently. Lessons learnt this year, which we can apply to the 2020 Programme rerun, include: Put the words ‘digital identity’ in the Programme title More than a dozen applications had no connection to digital identity (agricultural and environmental projects dominated here), which is a shame given the time and effort put into them. Ask for expressions of interest We worked hard to reach our intended audience, but despite our ongoing efforts we had little sense of the progress we were making in real-time. Asking people to contact us with their intention to submit an application would have helped us monitor progress and balance effort. Ask where they heard about the Programme It would have been helpful to know, particularly ahead of next year’s Programme, how applicants had heard about us. We can still do this, but next time we will ask as we go. Word of mouth is the best promotion medium for ‘hard to reach’ audiences We leveraged a number of channels in our efforts to promote the Programme, including promotions on Twitter and YouTube (63,000 impressions and 29,000 views respectively), although it wasn’t clear how effective this might be in directly leading to applications. We also shared the news on DevNetJobs which took the message deeper into our intended audience and shared the news with the media. Primarily though, most of our efforts were put into leveraging personal contacts and networks, which we believe was most effective. Next steps From this week, the selection panel will vote for their top three candidates, along with a backup list of a further five, reporting back by the end of July. Official offers will then be made and the one-year Fellowships should begin by the end of August. Given the large number of applicants who won’t be successful, and the high quality of many of these, we’ll also be looking at whether we can be creative with one or two of the positions. For example, if some proposals might work as six month positions, we can split the funding to cover two Fellows rather than one. We have budgeted £30,000 as the annual stipend per Fellow, plus £5,000 expenses on top. If you’re interested in supporting a Fellow then please do let us know. You can download a summary of the shortlist here. While the selection panel carry out their assessments, we will attempt to secure external funding to expand the cohort. With the wide range of countries and focus areas, supporting a Fellow in a country where you have an interest, or are active, might present a great CSR or philanthropic opportunity.

6 min read
Announcing the Yoti Fellowship Programme

Announcing the Yoti Fellowship Programme

Update: please note, applications for the Yoti Fellowship Programme are now closed for this year. We are excited to announce the launch of the Yoti Fellowship Programme, one of the signature activities from our new Social Impact Strategy. From today we will be inviting applications from individuals interested in helping unlock the potential of digital identities with a particular focus on local, grassroots issues. In return, Fellows will be offered generous financial and logistical support, expenses and a chance to have their findings shared with the wider world. See our Head of Social Impact Ken Banks chatting about the Fellowship Programme here.   Yoti Fellows: Filling the knowledge deficit The majority of the digital identity sector tends to focus on the design, adoption and use of large-scale digital identity systems, and how users interact with them. This includes national efforts, such as the Aadhaar ID system in India. Most of this research begins with the technology and works its way down to the people who use it, an approach which has given us something of a knowledge deficit. What we’re missing is an understanding of why people might want a digital identity, what they know about digital identity, their concerns and what tools and approaches might be missing in their local context. Without a fuller understanding of these bottom-up issues we have little chance of developing the most useful and appropriate identity solutions. We need to dive deeper and find out more if we want to increase our chances of adopting the right kind of identity – a Good Identity – in our sector. That’s why the prime objective of our new Fellows Programme is to support the local researchers, innovators, change agents and individuals closest to these issues. Tim Unwin, the UNESCO Chair in ICT4D and one of the judges on the selection panel for the Fellowship Programme, agreed with this approach. “This is a great opportunity to work with an innovative team on issues that really matter. Rather than beginning with the technology, these Fellowships offer an opportunity to begin with people – identifying why they might want a digital identity, and how such identities can be designed most appropriately to serve their needs.” The process From today we’re announcing a call for three Fellowship positions. We invite proposals for research, media or policy development, or solutions development. These proposals need to be based on three or four key themes related to identity or digital identity which merit further exposure, discussion, development or research. Outputs from the Fellow’s activities can be anything from a technical platform, a report, a website, a book, a policy paper, a film or any other medium relevant to the proposal. Applicants may be based anywhere, although preference will be given to those from the developing world. A short concept note will be required along with a current CV and the names of at least one referee. This is so we can be confident that the Fellow is qualified and able to deliver on their proposal. A selection panel made up of digital identity, technology, social scientists, activists and other experts will decide on the successful applicants. Details of the panel are available in the application pack. Erik Hersman, a technologist who specialises on the impact of technology in Africa, is just one of the experts to join the selection panel. “The future of everything is about being digitally connected, and the way we handle identity matters. I’m excited to help with selection on the Yoti Fellows Program as they think through who makes up that future, and why a bottom-up approach to thinking about digital identities matters so much for people in frontier markets,” he said. Fellows will be supported with a generous payment of £30,000 (approximately US$38,000) paid in equal installments over the course of the year, and receive logistical and technical support from Yoti. A small budget for project travel and other expenses up to a maximum of £5,000 will also be available. All work produced will be made publicly and freely available on completion of the Fellowship. Thematic areas We are primarily interested in issues, challenges and opportunities for digital identity in a local context. More specifically, we invite applications which focus on any of the following thematic areas. Unlocking the challenges of providing and managing identity solutions among refugee, migrant, marginalised or economically exploited communities or individuals. Studying the difficulties experienced by indigenous communities in establishing and proving identity, as well as claiming any state benefits they may be eligible for. Unpicking what ‘digital identity’ and identity more broadly means to communities in developing countries (including those living in or close to the last mile) and the NGOs and local organisations providing services to them. Any other issues which warrant investigation which are not yet part of the wider digital identity debate. Applications can be submitted between now and 15 June, 2019. Applicants will be notified of the outcome on a rolling basis but no later than 15 July, 2019. The three successful applicants will be able to start their Fellowships shortly after the closing date. You can find the full terms and conditions and other Programme details in our application pack here. You can send any questions to the team at social.impact@yoti.com with the subject ‘Yoti Fellowship Programme’. Best of luck!

5 min read
Say hello to Yoti’s new Social Purpose Strategy

Say hello to Yoti’s new Social Purpose Strategy

Over the past few months our Social Purpose team has been busy carrying out research across Africa, South East Asia and the United Kingdom to better understand digital identity needs and opportunities in these locations. We’ve been speaking to experts around the world and attending digital identity and humanitarian events to get a sense of who is doing what, where. Our findings have led to the development of an exciting user-focused, evidence-based Social Purpose Strategy which we are proud to be launching today, along with an updated section of the Yoti website. The primary focus of much of the digital identity sector is on the design, adoption and use of large-scale digital identity systems and how users interact with them. This includes national efforts, such as the Aadhaar ID system in India. Most of this research begins with the technology and works its way down to the people who use it, an approach which has given us something of a knowledge deficit. What we’re missing is an understanding of why people might want a digital identity, how they interpret or understand digital identity, their concerns and what tools and approaches might be missing in their local context. While we know there are approximately 1.1 billion people around the world who would benefit from some form of (likely digital) identity, we know far less about their own personal motivations for wanting and using one. And without a fuller understanding of these kind of bottom-up issues, we have little chance of developing the most useful and appropriate solutions. We need to dive deeper and find out more if we want to increase our chances of adopting the right kind of identity – a Good Identity – in our sector. While we remain committed to helping solve the problem of the 1.1 billion, our new Social Purpose Strategy is designed to help us better understand digital (and broader 21st century) identity perceptions, motivations, challenges, opportunities and concerns among grassroots communities and migrants around the world. With a particular focus on emerging markets, the Strategy is made up of a number of key activities, including: Helping local researchers and policy makers to better understand the opportunities and issues through our exciting new annual Fellowship Program, launching in the next few weeks. Empowering local innovators and thought leaders by providing a support program for developing world innovation hubs, universities and business centres. Running competitions and challenges in support of local innovation efforts. Providing an open-source digital identity solution that is simple to use, free and completely offline. This has been designed specifically for grassroots, last-mile nonprofits and socially-focussed groups. Our Strategy has one key purpose: to help further the positive social impact of digital identity solutions globally and to ensure digital identity becomes a force for good – for everyone, everywhere. You can download a copy of our Social Purpose Strategy (PDF) here. The updated section of the Yoti website can be found here.

3 min read
Yoti ‘Selfie Days’: how can we help?

Yoti ‘Selfie Days’: how can we help?

Here at Yoti we’re committed to social change. Whether that be gifting the use of our identity platform to registered non-profits, or lending out our office space to charities for meetings and public events, or assisting humanitarian organisations with identity needs in the developing world. We like to think that doing good is core to everything we do. So it might come as no surprise to hear about something we’re particularly proud of – Yoti Selfie Days. In short, everyone at Yoti gets five days a year for personal development or to support charitable and socially-focused causes. They get to choose who they spend their time with, and when, often based on personal interests or issues dominating the news at the time. Not only is this a great opportunity for our team to develop their own interests and make wider use of their skills, but it’s also a great opportunity for charitable and socially-focused causes to get help and support where they need it most. For example: Do you need help designing a new website? Curious about apps but don’t know where to start? Need help putting a project or marketing plan together? Struggling with your social media strategy? Have a report you need help writing or copy editing? Want to launch a simple website or app but don’t have the skills? Need help with financing or budgeting? Thinking about business plans or financial sustainability? Confused about online security, privacy, data protection, GDPR? Do you have particularly crazy spells where you could simply do with another pair of hands? At Yoti we are blessed with an incredible pool of talent – over 250 staff and counting – all of them willing to support worthy causes such as yours with any of these needs, and more. They’re quite literally waiting for the opportunity to help. Today we’re excited to announce that we’re accepting applicants for our 2019 Selfie Day cohort. If you’d like someone from Yoti to spend some, or all, of their available days with you please complete this simple form to register. All opportunities will be made available to Yoti team members throughout the year, and we’ll put anyone in touch who likes what you do and thinks they’ve got what it takes to help. We like to think of this as a win-win and we’d love to hear from you if you think we can help. Ken Banks Head of Social Impact at Yoti

3 min read